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DHS News August 2012

DHS Data Sharing with Local School Districts

More than half of the students in Pittsburgh Public Schools have received human services administered by DHS, DHS contractors, or other government and nonprofit agencies at some point in their young lives. Unfortunately, these students often face an achievement gap in Pennsylvania System of State Assessment (PSSA) scores, attendance, grade-point average and Pittsburgh Promise eligibility when compared to students with no human services involvement.

In an effort to improve educational outcomes for students with human services involvement, DHS signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Pittsburgh Public Schools in 2009 to share data and conduct an “action research” project, a problem-solving process where the two organizations pledged to work together to address issues involving students of mutual interest.

On a weekly basis, Pittsburgh Public Schools provides DHS with data – including personal identifiers, school directory information, demographics and academic outcomes – on the more than 27000 enrolled students. DHS then integrates this information into its data warehouse, a collection of more than 15 million client records from DHS programs and outside systems. The combined data is analyzed by staff in the Office of Data Analysis, Research and Evaluation (DARE) and used to develop strategies and interventions for improving student performance.

“It is exciting for DHS and Pittsburgh Public Schools to work together to improve educational and well-being outcomes for local students,” said Erin Dalton, DARE director. “The data-sharing agreement has allowed us to understand the needs of public school students and to develop interventions to improve outcomes.”

Due to the great success of the partnership between DHS and Pittsburgh Public Schools, other local school districts have also signed MOUs to share data with DHS. Clairton School District began sharing data with DHS in May 2012 and Woodland Hills will tentatively begin sharing data within the next month. These new partnerships will provide DHS with access to data on more than 4800 additional students and will permit us to extend the reach of interventions to improve more students’ outcomes in Allegheny County.

Read more about the work being conducted with local school districts

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